An asteroid approaching the Earth has been sighted: "it will pass
just under 10 thousand kilometers from the center of our planet
", astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, head of the Virtual Telescope Project, told ANSA, therefore
about 3,500 kilometers from the surface
Renamed 2023 BU, the object was discovered only five days before its close encounter with the Earth, expected for
pm Italian time (the time could vary by about 2 hours more or less) .
No risk to the Earth, but only an opportunity to observe the close passage.
This is the
third asteroid since the beginning of the year to fly past our planet from a close distance
, less than that between the Earth and the Moon, and it is the
fourth closest on record
Asteroid 2023 BU was sighted by engineer and amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov on January 21 at the Margo Observatory in Nauchny, Crimea.
Borisov is also known for discovering the first known interstellar comet, 2I/Borisov, in 2019.
The asteroid was immediately studied by various astronomical observatories around the world, such as the French observatory of Saint-Pardon-de-Conques, the English one of Great Shefford (both private) and the US national one of Kitt Peak.
With an estimated diameter of 3.7 to 8.2 meters, the asteroid belongs to the so-called Apollo asteroid group, which includes celestial bodies that are potentially dangerous to the Earth due to the possibility of a catastrophic impact: for example, the Chelyabinsk meteor , which exploded above the city of the same name in 2013, was an Apollo asteroid.
Currently, the asteroid is located in the constellation Ursa Major, at a distance of less than 900 thousand kilometers from our planet, and traveling at about 9.3 kilometers per second.
The appointment with the Earth will be followed by the Virtual Telescope Project, which has organized a live online broadcast on January 26, starting at 20.15 Italian time.
The green arrow indicates the direction of the asteroid relative to Earth;
in gray the orbit of the Moon, the blue arrow indicates the direction of movement of the Earth and the yellow one the direction in which the Sun is located (source: Minor Planet Center/IAU)